Marlene Winell is involved in building a new website, Recovery from Religion.
One of the most helpful things I found when leaving the world of religion was having opportunities to share my experiences with others also leaving their religions, and discovering in the process how similar are the psycho-social experiences of the faithful despite the vast external differences between their brands of affiliation, whether Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Moonies, Seventh Day Adventist and scores of other fundamentalist groups such as Potters House.
I am by no means a professional counsellor, but I put an advertisement in the local paper inviting any other ex-fundamentalists and ex-cultists to get together just to chat and share. We exchanged helpful literature, including Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell. But it was the sharing of the experiences that was the most memorable. As believers none of us could have possibly imagined, let alone believed, that what we had experienced in our churches was shared by so many belonging to what we thought of as “false faiths” — the non-true-Christian others.
That experience I think helped us stabalize and collect our bearings for preparing us for a new life. We could see that what we had been through was not unique, but that we were a part of a wider experience shared by too many in society, and that we were a few of the fortunate ones to have woken from the coma existence of fantasies and dreams but that nontheless so often caused so much pain for so many others. For all our lost years we had a chance to start afresh.
I’m sure I’ve said this before (linked somewhere in my profile I suspect) that one of the disappointing moments in the recovery process was discovering that the rest of the world, religious and otherwise, shared so many of double-binds, the reluctance to question things too far, the fearful attachments to the known despite ongoing harm and damage. If religion can be said to be the people’s opiate I came to see some religions as the relatively harmless aspirins and others at the other end of a continuum as the deadly heroins, (with some happy but variably problematic marijuana pentecostal types in the middle??).
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the new Recovery From Religion site. It’s still got some construction work going on at the moment, but its not too soon to start sharing experiences there. It’s the sort of site I was once thinking of building, till I discovered others had already created specialist variations of it (e.g. Robert McNally’s blog and links) — and Marlene’s Recovery from Religion looks like shaping up to be more focussed on support materials for ex-fundamentalists/cultists generally.
Good on yer, Marlene. Look forward to the growth of your new site.
A word to ongoing fundamenatlists: No doubt you will see some “bad attitudes” expressed in some testimonials. I suspect some of you have taken your bad attitudes to God in prayer, however. The difference is not that one group of people are handing themselves over to “satan” — they are seeking healing for their pain in the real world, among friends and peers who understand. Believers who attempt the same in the isolation of the prayer closet will find themselves having to continually return there because they will forever need to live in fearful need of forgiveness. Those who let out their pain among friends can find reassurance and support that will enable them to leave their “bad attitudes” behind and move on with their lives — free from the fear that kept them begging forgiveness all their former lives (compare my discussion of the sermon on the mount.)
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